Portfolio Management Career Path on Buy Side

jmbjr2012's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 33

What is the entry level position for one to begin a path in portfolio management, I have head it is a Portfolio Management Assistant but how does one get hired for this position, what makes one look most attractive. I currently will work for the opposite side in sales and marketing side but wanted to know what would be best way to approach other side.

Comments (13)

Mar 9, 2013

Fairly standard at most asset managers and mutual funds will have this backbone for the career progression:

Entry-Level: Associate, Junior Analyst, or some offshoot
+1-2 Years: Research Analyst, Investment Analyst, etc.
+2-8 Years: Senior Analyst, Junior Portfolio Manager, etc.
+4-12 Years: Portfolio Manager, Investment Officer, etc.

You can get to a PM or pseudo-PM role as quickly as a couple years out of school if you're smart and gain the trust of a senior manager. Generally, analysts that aren't PM by title but have been around for a long time are still handling a book of their own (not per se) via separately managed accounts.

And if you're not in a lever-pulling position by 12 years out you either aren't good at what you do or are happy with others thinking that's the case.

We'd rather have you start on the buy-side, be able to hit the ground running, and move up the chain that way if possible. Doing things like sales and marketing that you mention might familiarize you with what your job would be like on the career track to PM but it won't get you into the details which is what we'd much prefer. Jump right in and be a sponge from day one and you'll be in the best position, that's my view.

Mar 14, 2013
BlackHat:

Fairly standard at most asset managers and mutual funds will have this backbone for the career progression:

Entry-Level: Associate, Junior Analyst, or some offshoot
+1-2 Years: Research Analyst, Investment Analyst, etc.
+2-8 Years: Senior Analyst, Junior Portfolio Manager, etc.
+4-12 Years: Portfolio Manager, Investment Officer, etc.

What point in the PM career progression would it be most beneficial to get your CFA? Assuming you've already started at least studying for level 1 after 1-2 years as an analyst.

Mar 14, 2013
StryfeDSP:
BlackHat:

Fairly standard at most asset managers and mutual funds will have this backbone for the career progression:

Entry-Level: Associate, Junior Analyst, or some offshoot
+1-2 Years: Research Analyst, Investment Analyst, etc.
+2-8 Years: Senior Analyst, Junior Portfolio Manager, etc.
+4-12 Years: Portfolio Manager, Investment Officer, etc.

What point in the PM career progression would it be most beneficial to get your CFA? Assuming you've already started at least studying for level 1 after 1-2 years as an analyst.

asap. dont want to be doing that bullshit when you potentially need to work longer hours/start a family

Mar 9, 2013
StryfeDSP:
BlackHat:

Fairly standard at most asset managers and mutual funds will have this backbone for the career progression:

Entry-Level: Associate, Junior Analyst, or some offshoot
+1-2 Years: Research Analyst, Investment Analyst, etc.
+2-8 Years: Senior Analyst, Junior Portfolio Manager, etc.
+4-12 Years: Portfolio Manager, Investment Officer, etc.

What point in the PM career progression would it be most beneficial to get your CFA? Assuming you've already started at least studying for level 1 after 1-2 years as an analyst.

ASAP or never. It's not helpful, but some places really want you to have it (as I mentioned in the T. Rowe thread). You're not client facing and once you're a PM nobody's going to criticize you for having no CFA as long as you have a track record to stand by or the endorsement of the fund's former PM.

Mar 14, 2013

At the boutique IM firm I'm interning at they only have four portfolio managers on the advisory team.

They've got two portfolio managers, one senior portfolio manager, and one chief investment officer. The low number is because they only hire onto the team with minimum CFA II certification. I was interning when they interviewed a gal for a PM role and she ended up getting it. The last time they hired a PM was like 2006/7.

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Mar 14, 2013
StryfeDSP:

At the boutique IM firm I'm interning at they only have four portfolio managers on the advisory team.

They've got two portfolio managers, one senior portfolio manager, and one chief investment officer. The low number is because they only hire onto the team with minimum CFA II certification. I was interning when they interviewed a gal for a PM role and she ended up getting it. The last time they hired a PM was like 2006/7.

That's all they have on their advisory team though, no analysts/associates/anything. The PMs do all the research and client interaction, with the CIO handling the bulk of both.

Edit: Thought I was editing my comment and accidentally quoted it, sorry guys.

Mar 12, 2013
StryfeDSP:

At the boutique IM firm I'm interning at they only have four portfolio managers on the advisory team.

They've got two portfolio managers, one senior portfolio manager, and one chief investment officer. The low number is because they only hire onto the team with minimum CFA II certification. I was interning when they interviewed a gal for a PM role and she ended up getting it. The last time they hired a PM was like 2006/7.

OT - Can you change your avatar? Thanks :)

Mar 9, 2013

I just graduated this past December and have accepted a job at a top Asset Manager where I will get my series 7,63 and work more with clients with a long term goal of becoming a PM. I wanted to work with clients to get a good grounding in the industry and see what issues clients have ect.. I liked your input above Blackhat and wanted to see also what you thought of what I am doing. I hope to transition into an analayst position within 1 year after my training program ect..

I also thought that on the buy side there are 4 basic departments. PM, Research, Risk Management, and Sales and Marketing. Do many people who get into PM deparmnets come from Research since research usually reccomend/pitch ideas to the PM?

Thanks for the info so far

Jose Blanc

Mar 9, 2013
jmbjr2012:

I just graduated this past December and have accepted a job at a top Asset Manager where I will get my series 7,63 and work more with clients with a long term goal of becoming a PM. I wanted to work with clients to get a good grounding in the industry and see what issues clients have ect.. I liked your input above Blackhat and wanted to see also what you thought of what I am doing. I hope to transition into an analayst position within 1 year after my training program ect..

I also thought that on the buy side there are 4 basic departments. PM, Research, Risk Management, and Sales and Marketing. Do many people who get into PM deparmnets come from Research since research usually reccomend/pitch ideas to the PM?

Thanks for the info so far

I imagine at an asset management firm with an actual "portfolio management" division (maybe like BlackRock's Portfolio Analytics Group) that is much less of a stock picking / traditional PM role and rather more of a middle office-ish gig akin to risk management and probably a lot of Greeks, market exposure analysis and what not. When I think of a PM at Fidelity running a fund I almost always think of a guy who came up through Research. I think this is really the only way to do it unless things are markedly different at quant funds or something, but then again not many AMs have true dedication to quant methods yet.

If you have to get a Series 7 and 63 then I'm guessing you may not be doing Research?

Mar 9, 2013
BlackHat:
jmbjr2012:

I just graduated this past December and have accepted a job at a top Asset Manager where I will get my series 7,63 and work more with clients with a long term goal of becoming a PM. I wanted to work with clients to get a good grounding in the industry and see what issues clients have ect.. I liked your input above Blackhat and wanted to see also what you thought of what I am doing. I hope to transition into an analayst position within 1 year after my training program ect..

I also thought that on the buy side there are 4 basic departments. PM, Research, Risk Management, and Sales and Marketing. Do many people who get into PM deparmnets come from Research since research usually reccomend/pitch ideas to the PM?

Thanks for the info so far

I imagine at an asset management firm with an actual "portfolio management" division (maybe like BlackRock's Portfolio Analytics Group) that is much less of a stock picking / traditional PM role and rather more of a middle office-ish gig akin to risk management and probably a lot of Greeks, market exposure analysis and what not. When I think of a PM at Fidelity running a fund I almost always think of a guy who came up through Research. I think this is really the only way to do it unless things are markedly different at quant funds or something, but then again not many AMs have true dedication to quant methods yet.

If you have to get a Series 7 and 63 then I'm guessing you may not be doing Research?

Starting off with an entry level position as a financial representative, dealing with issues on client side, pw resets, execute basic traders, refers. Traditionally from this position you would end up leading all the way up to becoming a Account Executive/Sr/ Acct. Exec where you deal with clients face to face but many people start with this position and then move around, also begin working on CFA.

I targeted this side to get to work with clients, see how the industry works on 1 side and then eventually move to the other. Do you understand what I mean?

Jose Blanc

Mar 14, 2013
BlackHat:
jmbjr2012:

I just graduated this past December and have accepted a job at a top Asset Manager where I will get my series 7,63 and work more with clients with a long term goal of becoming a PM. I wanted to work with clients to get a good grounding in the industry and see what issues clients have ect.. I liked your input above Blackhat and wanted to see also what you thought of what I am doing. I hope to transition into an analayst position within 1 year after my training program ect..

I also thought that on the buy side there are 4 basic departments. PM, Research, Risk Management, and Sales and Marketing. Do many people who get into PM deparmnets come from Research since research usually reccomend/pitch ideas to the PM?

Thanks for the info so far

I imagine at an asset management firm with an actual "portfolio management" division (maybe like BlackRock's Portfolio Analytics Group) that is much less of a stock picking / traditional PM role and rather more of a middle office-ish gig akin to risk management and probably a lot of Greeks, market exposure analysis and what not. When I think of a PM at Fidelity running a fund I almost always think of a guy who came up through Research. I think this is really the only way to do it unless things are markedly different at quant funds or something, but then again not many AMs have true dedication to quant methods yet.

If you have to get a Series 7 and 63 then I'm guessing you may not be doing Research?

BlackHat,

what would you expect from a department called "Investments (CIO)" in the AM branch of a investment bank? I will intern there and although I was told that it is the stock picking department, but not sure what to expect...

Thanks in advance

Mar 14, 2013

jmbjr2012-

I really hope your plan works out for you but I don't think this was the best path for you to take. There is NOT alot of cross-pollination between the investment professional and operations side of most AM funds in my experience. Most new analysts/associates are hired out of MBA/Undergrad and very rarely internally from BO/MO. Respectfully, "I wanted to work on one side and switch to the other" will sound to lots of people as though you weren't competitive/didn't get a front office role and aren't being genuine about it. I believe you but just want to warn you that you may be faced with that down the line.

In general, for those who are reading, never underestimate the power of structures like undergraduate recruiting in determining your future career. Of course, mobility is possible and if you are really passionate about doing a job you shouldn't give it up, but the benefits of structured recruiting in college are huge and getting your foot in the door (even if working in Ops) is much, much harder than some seem to think. Even if your first choice doesn't work out, it would be much better to take another finance role (IB, etc.) than a BO/MO role (even if it is at your target firm).